Life Story / Obituary
Richard Harvey Harris (86) died on January 3rd, ending a unique era of radio broadcasting. A family man, his prime motivations were love of his wife of 60 years, Jessie Lynne Harris, his five children and 11 grandchildren, his Catholic faith and service to the community. A broadcaster his entire life, one of the earliest stories his older brother Joseph liked to tell was of Richard “with a radio glued to his ear.” He was captivated by the then cutting edge technology of transmitting sound through the electromagnetic spectrum.
After graduating University of Denver, his first radio job was in Mexico, Missouri. Richard then attended the University of Missouri, and met and married Lynne. Every one or two years, Lynne would pack up the house and they moved to a new opportunity, including management positions at nine radio stations and two television stations. For Richard, radio wasn’t just for advertisers, it was an essential aspect of creating community by giving a platform to a wide variety of voices. His career transfers ended when Westinghouse brought him to New York City to be Chairman of Group W Radio Broadcasting. The National Association of Broadcasters named him 1994 Broadcaster of the Year.
Richard’s connection to Milwaukee began in the early 1990s, when he bought WFMR, a classical music mainstay, where his son Randall Harris, and son-in-law David Bishop ran the station. Eventually he and Lynne decided to move back north, first settling in Illinois, and then moving to Saint John’s on the Lake in Milwaukee. He kept his sense of humor, quipping to the priest who administered last rites “Oh, you put on a black coat for me.” He drew his last breath, surrounded by numerous people who loved him.
He is survived by his wife Lynne, his children and their spouses Randall and Janet, David and Cynthia Bishop, Brian, Kenneth and Jenny, and Leslie and Eric Larsen and eleven grandchildren.